Incense and conical hats

There’s a village right near Tu Duc’s mausoleum that has been making conical hats for a very long time. And a special little surprise about these hats is that a paper cut-out is placed between the layers of woven palm leaves… it is of pictures of places around Hue or a poem. Therefore, these hats are sometimes called poem hats. The poem or shapes are only visible when you hold the hat up to the light.
These hats are very practical for Vietnamese weather – they shade the face, but allow airflow around the head and in downpours they act like a veranda, sending the run-off out from the face.

Making the hats seemed painstaking work. The palm leaves are stitched by hand to the frame, with tiny stitches. This lady told us she can make two a day. We bought one from her for 20,000VND (about $1 AUD or US).

The same village also produces incense, the sticks for which make an extremely colourful and photogenic display.

The sticks are handrolled into a paste of the required spices etc. I imagine there’s quite a market for incense in Vietnam, as every shop, business and restaurant (not to mention homes) would have a spot somewhere with a little temple with the sticks burning. In the mornings, shops would be hazy with incense smoke as the staff ‘smoked’ the store to drive out bad energy and make it a prosperous day.

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